Filipino Secretary Bird

Unknown Bird of prey of Southeast Asia.

Physical description: Feathers longer on the lower portion of the crest. Outermost tail feathers longer than the inner feathers. Distribution: Philippine Islands. Significant sighting: French naturalist Pierre Sonnerat visited the Philippines from 1771 to 1772 and reported the existence of a large bird of prey similar to the secretary bird of sub-Saha-ran Africa.

Present status: No known species of secretary bird exists outside Africa. Possible explanations:

(1) Specimens of the African Secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius), a long-legged, crested, eaglelike bird, may have been bought to the Philippines by traders.

(2) Sonnerat might have heard secondhand accounts of the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi ), which was unknown in the eighteenth century.

Sources: Pierre Sonnerat, Voyage dans la Nouvelle Guinée (Paris: Ruault, 1776); Karl Shuker, "All New Talon Show," Fortean Times, no. 105 (December 1997): 49.

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